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Towards a humanistic conception of cyberspace : a twofold challenge for netizens mobilizing for a democratic internet governance

Pavan, Elena and Senges, Max and Komaitis, Konstantinos (2009) Towards a humanistic conception of cyberspace : a twofold challenge for netizens mobilizing for a democratic internet governance. Annals of Dunarea de Jos, XV.

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Abstract

Our paper critically addresses the involvement and the role of civil society entities in new participatory forms of governance, using the Internet governance (IG) debate as a case study. The Internet is first and foremost a global public space potentially available to everyone for the pursuit of the most heterogeneous interests. As this global space becomes crucial in everyday life and consequences of interests pursuit within it capillary innerve the offline dimension, new forms of governance are required to ensure that all stakeholders are represented and actively involved in the management and development of what can be conceptualized as a common pool resource (CPR). The commons of the Internet space and its service as a CPR necessitate the involvement of various competencies that are dispersed in intelligence networks to which private sector and civil society necessary belong. In particular, we examine the meaning and the potential for the inclusion of civil society entities in this debate in relation to the achievement of a universal (and not only global) Internet and the consolidation of a humanized conception of IG. To this end, we propose an analytical division of IG space in four sub-sectors (social commons; information and service commons; price commons; infrastructure commons) and we argue that civil society groups participation should be contextualized and actions modulated following this dissection of competence and eligibility spheres. Furthermore, the effort to achieve a democratic internet governance translates into a double challenge for civil society groups: on the one hand, occasions of direct influence must be fully exploited modulating actions in a way that overcomes the inherent heterogeneity characterizing public interests entities; on the other, a humanized vision has to be built up and consolidated in the IG field in order to provide a set of benchmarks dynamically interacting with market and traditional policy making logics. Finally, we will also explore the effect that the construction and the consolidation of a humanized perspective on IG will have in the translation of this domain from a mostly technical matter into a seed in an emerging field of contention built around information and communication issues.